Are your values what you think they are?

February 17, 2019

You are what you do every day

Do you care if your teeth fall out? Most people would cringe and answer “YES!” to this question.

The old saying goes: “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.”

One study indicated that 30% of millennials only brush their teeth once per day, and most of them have gone more than a day without brushing their teeth. That’s to say nothing of the 32% who never floss.

If you have the wherewithal to brush and floss but don’t regularly or at all, do you really care about your dental health? The evidence—what you’re not doing every day—would suggest the answer is no.

Becoming “one of those flossing people”

One day last year, I decided I wanted to become one of those people who flosses every day. So I got up off the couch, went into the bathroom, dug around in the cabinet until I found some floss, and went to work. It took me less than two minutes. It cost me almost no money.

The next day after I brushed my teeth, I remembered the floss in the cabinet and flossed again. Sure, I forget to floss on occasion, but for the most part, it’s become a daily habit for the past six months.

Dentists constantly lecture their patients about the benefits of flossing, yet most of us still don’t do it. But like I said, it took me less than two minutes and cost almost nothing. The benefits seem to vastly outweigh the costs here. So why don’t more people floss?

Talk isn’t cheap

Last year I learned that talk isn’t cheap. Actually, talk is worth absolutely nothing. I learned that if I want to learn about someone’s character and values, I should nearly flat-out ignore what the person says and instead observe what he or she does. What people do is what they are. What people do shows what their values are. More than that, what people do every day is what they are and shows what their values are. Sure, people can put on an act for a while, but it’s much easier to lie with words than with actions.

Then I realized a far more sobering truth:

  • What do every day is what I am. What do every day shows what my values are.
  • (And what I don’t do is what I am not. What I don’t do is what my values are not).

I’m comfortable saying that my friends and family are important to me. I call or text several of them every day. However, I’ve been telling people for years that I want to publish my books, but when was the last time I sent a letter to a book agent? At that point, the answer to that question was “last year.” Um, what? Is publishing a book really important to me if I haven’t done anything about it in a year? I don’t like the answer to that question.

Think about something that matters to you. Do you do something about it every day? Or at least every week? Maybe you’d agree with this statement: “My art is important to me.” When was the last time you actually painted something? Maybe you agree with this statement: “I want a better job.” Then why do you just scroll through and never apply for any of the jobs?

Are your values what you think they are?

What you say matters to you and what you say your values are doesn’t mean much if you aren’t doing anything about it. What do you actually do every day? My answer to this question is a little depressing. Every day, I look at Facebook. Every day, I text at least 12 people. Every day, I wake up with just enough time to get ready for wherever I’m going.

I decided to make a change. I asked myself what I want my values to be and decided to prove it every day. Now I floss, read the Bible, eat a healthy breakfast, and exercise every day. When I think of another value that isn’t yet evident in my daily habits, I create a new habit.

What do you think your values are? What do you do every day? If the answers to these two questions aren’t even close to being the same, then your values may not be what you think they are.